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Articles | Volume 1
15 Jul 2019
 | 15 Jul 2019

Effect of Land tenure change on Land use in Machakos County, Kenya

Mary Wamuyu Baaru and Charles K. K. Gachene

Keywords: Land use change, Land subdivision, Human settlement, Land tenure

Abstract. Land tenure is considered an important issue of development agenda and this has led to land allocation and titling in developing countries across continents. As a result, a massive transfer of land rights. Land tenure has been considered as one of the key factors that define patterns and changes in land use system. Due to challenges in collective ownership, Kenya has embraced this idea shifted away to individual land tenure system. This paper examines how land tenure change has influenced land use patterns in Katheka-kai Location, Machakos County for 21 years (1988- 2009), Kenya.

The study area was until 1995 a ranching scheme but transformed to individual farms, providing a niche in studying land use change. Six classes identified as forests, cultivated land, savannah grassland, water bodies, built-up land, rocky areas, and bare land was used for change detection. Thematic change detection for Landsat TM and Landsat ETM+ was established using ENVI EX. This was done by selecting two images of the same scene, with same number of classes and same names at different times.

During the period of 1988–2009, the major land use/cover was savannah grassland, bare land, rocky areas, and forest. Cultivated land, built-up areas, and water bodies had the least land cover. The land use/cover change has been dynamic with about 68.6% land changing from one land use to another between 1988 and 2009 (Figure 1 and 2).

The 24.4% increase recorded in savanna grassland was at the expense of rocky areas, forest cover, bare land and water bodies that lost 18.7, 2.9, 2.1 and 0.7% respectively (Table 1). Despite the loss, forest cover still recorded 2.7% increase between 1988 and 2009 mostly from rocky areas (1.6%) and bare land (1.2%). Apart from becoming savanna grassland, most of the bare land was converted to rocky areas (7.6%), cultivated land (1.8%) and forests (1.2%) and this explains the 7.4% decrease in area under bare land. Cultivated land witnessed a 1.8% increase between 1988 and 2009 and was due to conversion of bare land (1.8%) and forest cover (0.6%) into cultivated land. Increase in percentage area under built-up areas (0.5%) was as result of conversion of bare land (0.2%), rocky areas (0.2%) and savanna grassland (0.1%). Water bodies changed to become savanna grassland (0.7%) and rocky areas (0.4%) and this led to 0.5% decline in land under water bodies.

Savanna grassland, bare land and rocky areas are the dominating land uses/justified by the fact that the area is a rangeland initially hosting a range of wildlife animals. Increased population leads to high demand for food and housing and this explains the increase cultivation land and built-up areas. A study carried out by Gathaara et. al. (2010) in the same area reported that most of the farmers resulted in agricultural activities to meet increasing food demand as well as for economic gains. Similarly, Mundia and Muranyan (2009) reported that changing land tenure policy resulted in expansion of agricultural land. Furthermore, after subdivision and issuance of title deeds to individual members, the owner gets the rights to make land use decisions based on benefits.

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